The Power of Collaborating with your Tenants on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Thursday 28th of January 2021

Working in the housing sector we have a fairly unique relationship with our customers and this makes us ideally placed to effectively collaborate with our tenants on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Together creating more cohesive and inclusive communities and supporting our organisations to create more inclusive workplaces.

However this doesn’t happen overnight. It requires commitment and dedication. Your tenants need to believe that what you are doing is authentic and that it will result in real and lasting positive change.

So, how do you do this? We believe, from our experience, that there are 4 key steps to make a real and sustainable impact:

  1. Ask questions & explain why you are asking

In the housing organisation for whom we worked we began the diversity and inclusion dialogue by asking tenants about their protected characteristics as part of a customer survey. Whilst we initially met some reluctance and doubt about the validity of asking some of the questions, particularly those around sexual orientation, when we were able to explain why we were asking in terms of service improvements and ensuring we had no discrimination in our processes then they understood and happily, in the most part, gave us the answers.

  1. Demonstrate how the answers you have received have informed policy changes

When we were then able to share with our tenants the actions we had taken as a result of the information we had gathered they could see we had meant what we had said. For example, we used a tenant newsletter article to explain how asking about disability had informed an allocations policy amendment.

  1. Provide training for your tenants and keep the communication going

We then undertook a load of training with our tenants. Explaining why diversity and inclusion was important to us as a business and why it should be important for them as residents on our estates. Building that knowledge around the issues and the up-to-date terminology had a fantastic positive impact. Not only in terms of awareness but also engaging a new, more diverse, group of tenants to become more actively involved.

  1. Harness the power of the committed individuals

Finally, the key to successful collaboration was about engaging those who are committed to the agenda. For example we established a focus group of older LGBT tenants who worked with us on how we could ensure our older person’s accommodation was inclusive – this resulted in staff training and the development of a plaque for outside of our sheltered and extra-care accommodation which clearly articulated our inclusion commitment. Another example was the trans customer group we established – we provided a safe space for trans customers to gather and through working with them we learnt so much which helped us to shape our internal policies and some members of the group volunteered to act as role models for the organisation.

In our experience these simple actions had a significant positive impact.

We are lucky as housing organisations to have the relationship with our tenants that we do – harness the power of this relationship to make a real and sustainable equality, diversity and inclusion impact, benefitting both your tenants and your organisation!

Tpas are delighted to be working with a new social enterprise, Positive About Inclusion, to deliver two new equality, diversity and inclusion courses for us during 2021.

Diversity and Inclusion is high on the agenda not just for the housing sector but for society as a whole. The pandemic has highlighted and worsened existing social inequality and organisations recognise that they have a really important role to play in creating diverse communities and inclusive workplaces.

Karen Faulkner and Lucy Malarkey are both housing professionals having worked in the sector for many years. They bring a wealth of housing expertise combined with a passion for delivering engaging training.

The two courses they will be running are:

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion- the Essentials

24 February 2021

8 April 2021

20 May 2021

An introduction to equality, diversity and inclusion covering why it matters from a legal, moral and individual responsibilities perspective.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – the Power of Language

18 March 2021

27 April 2021

10 June 2021

A safe space in which to explore the importance of using appropriate language in today’s diverse world and with particular emphasis on social housing.

Both courses are suitable for either tenants or members of staff.

You can learn more about Positive About Inclusion by visiting their website